Family history of the Jollans family

The Smith family

There is a double connection between the Smith family and the Baron family, from which Rachel Jollans came.    Ellen Smith married John Washington Baron and Ellen's brother, John Howard, married John Washington Baron's sister, Nancy   Rachel Jollans was the daughter of John Washington and Ellen Baron.  On the other side of the family, John Howard and Nancy Smith had four children (3 boys, George, WIlson and David Howard, and 1 girl, Annie).

In 1988 descendants of both the Smith and Baron sides of the family met in Accrington. 

The Smith-Baron reunion in 1988

Back row: Lonice Purdom, Peter Neale, Frances Thompson, Keble Sykes, Elizabeth Matthew, Geoffrey Smith, Jean Smith, Bill Jollans, Kathy Smith. Centre Row: Jane Smith, Dorothy Hall, Peggy Rymer, Joan Jollans, Christine Neale, Margaret Sykes. Front row: Paul Matthew, Jennie Matthew, Emma Fawcett.

More below on members of the Smith family:

1.  Joseph and Alice Smith, née Kemp

2.  Wilson Smith and Rachel Smith, née Brewer

3.  John Howard Smith and Nancy Smith, née Baron

4.  The family of John Howard and Nancy Smith

Joseph and Alice Smith, née Kemp

Alice Kemp was married first to Joseph Smith and then to Edward Smith, probably his brother.   She was born in December 1809, the daughter of James and Ann Kemp, and married Joseph in 1828.  By the time of the 1851 census she was married to Edward Smith, living at 98 Church Lane in Great Harwood and looking after a total of 9 children.  Six of these, aged from 10 to 20, are described as nieces and nephews of Edward Smith, so are presumably the children of Joseph and Alice.  The other three, two boys aged 15 and 17 and a girl aged 11, are described as his children, so are presumably from his first marriage.  Confusingly there are two Wilson Smith's in the household.  Edward’s 17 year old son is called Wilson Smith (was this the name of Edward and Joseph's father?), but the age of his nephew (12 in 1851) confirms that this is the Wilson Smith who later married Rachel Brewer.

Wilson Smith and Rachel Smith, née Brewer

Wilson Smith was born in Great Harwood in 1839, the son of Joseph and Alice Smith.  His wife, Rachel Brewer, was born a year earlier in Low Moor, near Clitheroe, a few miles north of Great Harwood.  She appears to have come to Great Harwood in 1858 and married Wilson Smith in 1859.  An obituary notice suggests that her move to Great Harwood was at the time of the cotton panic, but this was from 1861 to 1865.  It seems more likely that she came to work in the cotton industry in the boom years (both she and Wilson were described on their marriage certificate as cotton power weavers) and may then have suffered when production turned down.

Brewer was the unmarried name of Rachels’s mother (Ellen Brewer), and of her grandmother (Mary Brewer) as well.  There is no firm evidence of her father, but I have a handwritten note to suggest that he was ‘young de Hoghton’ of Hoghton Tower (to the west of Blackburn), and that through him she could trace her ancestors back to Edwin & Morcar and to Lady Godiva and the Earldom of the Hwicca.   The current Hoghton Tower website confirms the link of this family to Lady Godiva.  Rachel’s mother Ellen Brewer later married a farm labourer with the name Entwistle.

Wilson and Rachel were married at Blackburn Register Office on 21 April 1859 and had 7 children.  Ellen, their fourth child, married John Washington Baron, while their fifth child, John Howard, married John Washington’s sister, Nancy.  The descendants of both couples share common ancestors in both Wilson and Rachel Smith and David and Sarah Baron.

Presumably the two families became quite close and they seem to have come from similar backgrounds.  Wilson Smith started out as a weaver, but became a draper, with premises in Queen Street in Great Harwood.  In politics he was a Liberal and was for three years a member of the Urban District council, and he attended the Congregational Church.  David Baron on the other hand became a grocer with premises in the Palatine Building.  He too was a Liberal, becoming Treasurer of the Liberal Club, and he attended the Methodist Church.  Wilson was the older of the two, by three or four years.

Wilson and Rachel were living in Princess Street in 1861, but at the time of Wilson’s death in 1903 they were living at 18 South View.  After that, Rachel moved to live with her daughter Ellen and John Washington Baron at ‘The Cedars’ before her own death in 1909.

Wilson Smith obituary notices

Rachel Smith obituary notices

John Howard Smith and Nancy Smith, née Baron

John Howard Smith was the fifth child of Wilson and Rachel Smith, and the younger sister of Ellen Smith.  He was born in 1867 and in 1889, at the age of 21, he married Mary Waring, who unfortunately died within a year of their marriage.  He then re-married in 1893 to Nancy Baron, born in 1869 as the third child of David and Sarah Baron.  At this time he was described as a draper, presumably working in the family business with his father.  Around 1900 he developed a progressive acute rheumatoid arthritis, which eventually left him helpless, and he died in 1907, aged 39.

By that time however he and Nancy had 4 children.  Nancy was therefore left a widow and single mother with 4 children aged between 5 and 12 and a business to run as well.  On the basis of their subsequent achievements she seems to have raised them pretty successfully. 

Nancy Smith in 1938

Her obituary notice refers to her as a regular contributor to the ‘Poet’s Corner’ in the Blackburn Times and to other literary efforts.

Nancy Smith obituary notice

The Smith family was featured as part of a display at Great Harwood Library in 2009.

The family of John Howard and Nancy Smith

The four children, of John Howard Smith and Nancy Baron all went on to become very distinguished in their chosen fields.  The oldest, George Smith, born in 1895, went to Accrington Grammar School and Manchester University, graduating in 1916 and gaining an MSc two years later.  He then worked as a Research Chemist for Boardman & Baron in Great Harwood from 1919 to 1930 and published works on textile chemistry.  He published his first mycological paper in 1928 entitled ‘The identification of fungi causing mildew in cotton goods: the genus Aspergillus', publishing part 2 in 1931, the year he moved to The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine where he was to stay until he retired in 1961.  He was involved in the discovery of the antibiotic 'patulin' but was more interested in mycology and became a world authority both on aspergillus and penicillius.  During the second world war he became one of the first specialists in 'bio-deterioration', preventing mould causing equipment sent to the tropics to deteriorate.  (Information from the Great Harwood website)


The second child, Wilson Smith, born in 1897, served in the Field Ambulance Service in the First World War, before studying medicine at Manchester University, and then working on influenza research, where his work helped to lay the foundations for influenza virus research.  He isolated the first human strain of the influenza virus and a strain he isolated from himself became the first human strain to be made available for laboratory study.  He became a Professor of Bacteriology in 1939 and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1949.

 Obituary Wilson Smith

David Howard Smith, born in 1900, took a rather different path, training as a Methodist minister and becoming a missionary in China and an expert on Chinese religion and literature.  He first went to China in 1924, became a fluent Chinese speaker, and when he came back in 1931, gained a degree in Chinese language and literature.  He went back to China, working at the Central China Theological College and becoming the Chairman of the North China District of the Methodist Church.  He was interned by the Japanese during the Second World War and soon after the end of the war, with the Communist Revolution in China, had to return to the UK.  He became a lecturer in Comparative Religion at Manchester University, and in retirement, translated Chinese religious works of Chuang-Tzu and others.

Obituaries Howard Smith - Methodist Recorder and The Times

Their youngest child, Annie (known as Nancy), was born in 1902 and trained as a singer in oratorio.  She had some lessons from Sir Henry Wood, but gave up the profession after marriage to Gordon Frost.